My 100th oil painting since I started painting again around April this year. Below are some of the lessons I learnt so far on this journey of painting (and also blogging) – these could be especially useful if you have limited time and energy to paint:
Remove Obstacles: if you have limited time and energy time to paint, get your studio area organized so you have no excuses not to paint in your free time. At one stage I realized cleaning my palette was an irritation because my work area was cramped and everything wobbled as I wiped and scraped the palette clean. When I had a quick 30 minutes free to paint, I would always think – “Its not worth all that cleaning up afterward”.
So I invested in a large, $20 worth’s piece of thick glass and placed this more sturdily where I could work more effectively. I re-organized the area so that I could easily clean up even a large mess of oil paint within minutes. I took note: “It only takes 4 minutes”.
View Paintings as a WIP: when I started painting again this year, I painted small and tried to complete one painting a day. This worked well at the start. But over time I realized this pattern was not good for me. It felt as if each session should produce something decent to post on my blog else it was a failure. I realized this created tension and kept me from painting – especially if I was down (can you believe, I am sometimes down!) or felt rushed. This was because I would think “Why bother, I will never finish a painting in the 40 minute before XYZ happens”.
So I changed tack – I started working larger, and deliberately started two paintings at the same time. Then in each session I just worked on the next part of any of the paintings where it was most needed. My productivity and attitude while painting immediately improved.
Even if I had only 20 minutes to paint, I could use that to start the first stages of one or two paintings. Or go and touch up the sky or foreground. I also relaxed and realized how malleable an oil painting is – it can remain a work in progress for months, even years. It is done when you think it is.
Keep Looking for your Groove – it Moves Around: some time ago I did not know what to paint. I found no heart of inspiration from painting still lifes or even my beautiful surroundings. I found some inspiration from my invented charcoal landscapes, but it was a hit and miss affair.
I kept trying. At some stage, I started to find more and more inspiration in photos taken during my daily walks. I had found a ready-to-hand source of material that inspired me and that I could use. I really felt I had arrived. In recent weeks, I sense a change again – a move back to my invented landscapes.
I see this as an unfolding of part of my inner creative self. It is a movement I do not control. It takes perhaps an observant mind and at least a 100 paintings to start seeing that a painting journey has seasons that we do not always control. Roll with it!
Paint, Paint, Paint – in Sickness and in Health: I often feel tired, depressed, unmotivated. I constantly ask myself why I bother painting.I have no answers. I try my best to paint regardless. I have a canvas pad that I use for such occasions. I tape a piece of canvas my easel and squeeze out some Raw Sienna and mix it with lots of OMS. I paint loose and wild – if I feel frustrated or angry I let it show.
Many times I have been gobsmacked by the change in my attitude that comes from such a session. I have a small painting I started yesterday in this manner, and it is one of the best I have made. At the very least, it is a great sketch for a more finished painting. [I hope to post this soon].
In this same vein, it may be of use to consider the advice given by Barbara Jeanicke, which I posted as Quote #1 on this page, together with a link to the original post by Mrs Jeanicke.
Paint or Blog? Get your Priorities Straight: When I decided to start a blog, it was to have a log of my paintings and note down some of my semi-private thoughts to share with friends. I thought no one would ever read it. I was amazed when my first post got a like – “How did they know of my blog?”, I wondered. (I only later found out all new blogs go on the Reader where others could see it!).
At times I have lost focus and spent more time blogging, looking at blogs and such. I made a decision to limit my blogging time to a short but punchy post (nobody REALLY reads it attentively…do they?) and then check some of the blogs I follow only on weekends. The rest of my free time I paint and then paint a bit more when others are not looking.
Oh yes – if you are new to blogging as a painter, know that MANY LIKES DO NOT A GOOD PAINTING MAKE. [Example, check out this blog. The artist is in a whole other (better!) league than I am, yet she only receives one or two likes per post. But she rarely replies to comments – obviously she is too busy painting!]
Often the number of likes is more a reflection of how active a blogger is – one can literally whip up lots of likes by buzzing around and getting others to follow you. No harm in that – but if you want to be an artist there are probably better things to do!
That’s it for now, I hope the above is of value to someone out there!
I am pooped, will try and add a poem to my post later on!